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Curtains

Published in the catalogue from Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

With this cycle of images an isolated curtain motif on large scale is first seen in 1993 Jörg Sasse gave up the production of pictures taken by himself, pictures that used to focus on daily life interiors in a still life manner and that more and more left the realm of designation of real objects. Found snapshots taken by amateurs, sometimes a long time ago, now serve as digitalized raw material. Only in the transformation by the computer his work finds its essential, new kind of visual expression. He appropriates conventional photographs in colour, destined for the private use of other people, essentially serving the memory of situations and moments. "What these photos intend, is not what the picture now shows; it is actually, what has taken place before the camera. I am not interested in the intention. I am interested in the picture. That's why my collection of material is mainly based on amateurs' work that is not obviously dedicated to private subjects or that shows details taken by accident." (Jörg Sasse)

1546, 1993 (137 x 200 cm) Found images are fragmented into tiny sections, certain objects are taken apart or put aside, contrasts or shapes are stressed or diminished, colours are changed, until the single work presents itself in its specific artistic quality. Apparently realistic imagery is transformed into a thoroughly ficticious image field, similar to the realisation of a painting that produces the illusion of figuration by the application of many strokes and dots. But while Sasse does not have to deal with an empty canvas, he on the contrary, has to reduce the data mass. A mountain landscape with chalet or a group of bathing people present motifs of classical iconography, demonstrating all the sentimental memory potential of photography. But seen in close up, they seem to a dissolve into an almost psychedelic construction of images which reveals inevitably all the deceptive aspects of reality being documented by photography. But despite all the high-tech involved, this disillusionment is transformed into a very suggestive act of visualisation. Actually, the computer generated digital image opens up unexpected spaces for reception and association, an effect caused also by the gap between the presented and the presentation, between the disappearing tangible reality and the autonomous presence of the image. The presentation of the pictures left almost floating by a slight distance to the wall and the frameless hanging behind plexiglass is conceived according to the ambivalence of its true or fake or manipulated imagery.

This immaterial spell of images unrepresentable by the reproductions in a catalogue materialises especially in a very unnarrative object like a curtain. 6137, 1996 (200 x 147 cm) The frugality of the motif is seen also by the physical extension of Sasse's formats on a more abstract level of perception as continuity of colour and shape, reminding of "colour field paintings". By coincidence of materiality it could also be a statement in relation to Blinky Palermo's cloth pictures. It is the power of colour that takes here the lead and addresses the senses of the spectator. Even though narrative elements of the image are put on a less important level by the appropriation of trivial anonymous pictures, thus negating the notion of creation or the original, the question of the curtain does appear as metaphor. Indirectly, and probably in an unconscious way, the window motif is introduced, an element that played an important role for the German Romanticism up to Matisse. It is the mediator between inner and outer world maybe also between light and darkness of the night, between the shelter at home and the outlook on larger, even metaphysical associations. One is reminded of the "Balkonzimmer" by Adolf Menzel (1845), where the balcony and the outer world are merely presented by a bright light, shining through the scarcely furnished room. The hazy, slightly wafting curtain reveals and veils at the same time, its promises remaining sheer ideas. Sasse's curtain instead present solid, heavy materiality, rejecting any intention to transform the world into a stage by sophisticated draperies. While the earliest greenish curtain (1546, 1993) stills shows signs of veil like subtility by its reflection in the orange floor, the last cortain picture (5061, 1996) is a close up of a rough tissue of almost repelling materiality. But in a masterly turn, a rather bourgeois brown greyish blend is confined to the lower quarter of the picture, leaving the colour field to a striking raspberry red. The effect is increased by the dark violet shadows of the drapery. Sasse, though showing sections of roomdetails, does not let the curtain give any hints on outer or inner realities any more. He refuses to help any spatial orientation and emphasises a unique presence of visual reality that denies the role of the picture as "window to the world". Could it be that the motif here reveals the mere appearance character of photographical images of a reality that we cannot fully comprehend any more? And did not Henri Matisse already with his paintings "Porte fenêtre a Collioure" (1914) and "Le rideau jaune" (1915), use the reductive motif as a starting point for a visual language that ultimately overcomes objectivity, being nourished only by relations of colour and form? And how about Gerhard Richter's black and white curtain paintings of the mid sixties? While he dedicated his first curtain picture to the still life painter Morandi with his preference for blurry shapes, the following pictures tend to show tube like cut, equalise draperies. Their effects of light and shadow, their relations of focused and fuzzy shapes oscillate like Op Art without suffering its technical smoothness. 5061, 1996 (142 x 220 cm) Already Richter showed the curtain as a borderline revealing the problems in visnalizing the visible. Where Richter used photographical models in order to be able to make up to date paintings unlike Jasper Johns who stuck to highly artistic "peinture" Sasse exploits the possibilities of today's digitalized photography, and creates a new visual dimension beyond camera or brush. As Richter stated before, the artist's production "is not about the skill of the 'handmade', but only about the ability to see and to decide what has to be seen. The way it is realized afterwards has nothing to do with art or artistic skills." Thus, in Jörg Sasses "trias" of curtain still lifes, a smoothly draped cornflower blue raises above a metallic horizontal screen, appearing object like in its saturated coolness and yet referring to the distance, full of imagination (6137, 1996).

Bernhard Bürgi, 1997